About our Ireland Hiking Tours
A self-guided hiking tour gives you the freedom to enjoy the wonderful Irish countryside at your own pace. Hiking without a guide, we will provide you with all the resources you need to successfully complete the trail alone or in the company of good friends.
We’ll plan your route, transfer your bags and show you all the best places to visit but you decide whether you want that extra hour in bed in the morning!
Guided hiking tours are not available from Hillwalk Tours.
Generally, our tours can take place between March and October but there are some exceptions. Please see the individual tour pages for information on possible start and end dates of tours.
Our 7-Day tours include 5 days of hiking. The first and last days of all our hiking tours are travel days used to transfer to/from the town where your hike will begin/end. If you would like to hike for 7 days, simply select one of our 9-Day tours.
Our 7-Day tours include 6 nights of accommodation – specifically the first 6 nights on your hiking tour. Your tour finishes on the seventh day when you check out of your last B&B.
A single supplement is an additional charge for walkers booking single accommodation (a room for one person). The total tour price per person requesting a single room is the price per person plus the single supplement. The supplement covers the extra costs associated with accommodating a single person in their own room.
It is not possible to bring your dog on Hillwalk Tours hiking holidays. Unfortunately, the majority of our accommodation providers do not accept pets of any kind.
Yes, most bus and train tickets can be purchased online in advance of your trip. Specific transport information is available on the tour pages of each hiking region. See the Travel Info section for each tour for more information.
We can generally arrange for you to park at your first B&B. If you are bringing your car, please contact us in advance.
About Luggage Transfers and Accommodation
No, on all our Ireland hiking tours, your luggage will be transported to your next accommodation each day as you walk and will arrive before 4pm. A maximum weight limit of 15 kg per person applies to this luggage transfer service.
You will be staying in traditional Irish Bed & Breakfasts (B&B’s) during your hiking trip. To ensure your comfort, each B&B you will stay in has been personally checked by a member of the Hillwalk Tours team. You can expect a warm welcome, en-suite facilities (where available) and a hearty breakfast each morning. For more details on the accommodation you will be staying in, see the Accommodation section for each tour.
Yes, we normally post out your hiking pack (which includes details of where you will be staying) to your home address one month in advance of the start date of your tour. This can be sent sooner upon request.
In general, we try to book accommodation which is as close to the local amenities as possible. If you are staying in a remote location (where access to local pubs/restaurants is not feasible), the owner of the B&B that you are staying at will ensure that you are well fed.
Please be aware that occasionally, due to the limited supply of accommodation, we may have to make reservations for you at a nearby B&B and arrange transfers to and from the walking trail accordingly. In most locations, this is not a concern but in certain places, availability can be an issue. For more information, just have a chat with the person who is booking your tour.
A ‘twin’ room is a room for two people with two separate beds. A ‘double’ room has just one large bed (for two people).
About Your Hiking Pack
– Route notes (prepared by a member the Hillwalk Tours team who has walked every step of your tour)
– Detailed hiking map(s)
– Waterproof map-case
– A sneak-peak at where you will be staying
– Our tips on the most interesting attractions to visit along the trail
– A look at fascinating local history
– A guide to the best places to eat and drink
– Mountain safety information, emergency contact details & the country code
You will find GPS coordinates for the all overnight accommodation on your tour in your personalised itinerary, which you will receive upon booking. GPS tracks for your walking route can be provided on request. Please note that while we are reasonably confident that the tracks are correct and up-to-date, we recommend that they are not used as the only tool for navigation. The most important means for navigation should be the way markers along the trail, our route notes and the maps we provide in the walking pack.
One hiking pack will be provided per four people. Therefore, for a group of 1 – 4 people, one hiking pack will be sent. For 5 – 8 people, two hiking packs will be sent, etc.
The contents of your hiking pack (route notes, accommodation information, history, etc.) will all be in English.
About Fitness Levels
We believe that the beauty of the Irish countryside should be enjoyed by everyone. With this in mind, we designed our hiking tours to cater for practically all levels of fitness. Our range of ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ and ‘Challenging’ hikes in all regions allows you to decide how far you wish to walk each day. So, whether you are a novice walker or an experienced hiker, we have the tour to suit you.
The difference between these tours is the distance that you will hike each day:
- Gentle tours cover an average of 12-18 km (8-11 miles) per day
- Moderate tours cover an average of 16-23 km (10-14 miles) per day
- Challenging Tours cover an average of 22-30 km (14-19 miles) per day
For a more detailed breakdown of how we grade our hiking tours, see the green ‘Tour Grading’ tab at the top of the FAQs section.
Yes, we are more than happy to organise an additional night for you anywhere you please. Suggestions on interesting places to take a rest day are available on the tour pages of each hiking region. See the Extra Days/Activities section for each tour for more information.
About Money, Flights and Insurance
ATM facilities are available in many of the towns along the route. Credit cards are also accepted by many bar and restaurants. However, we suggest that you also bring a reasonable sum of cash as a back-up.
The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro (€). The currency used in Northern Ireland is the Pound Sterling (£). Therefore, if you are taking an Antrim hiking tour, you will need Pound Sterling and for all of our other regions, you will need Euro.
Flights and transport to the start of your hiking tour are not included in our prices. However, we do provide detailed timetables on how to make it to the start of your hike by public transport on our tour pages. See the Travel Info section for each tour for more information.
Hillwalk Tours strongly encourages you to take out adequate insurance cover prior to travel.
Which Ireland Hiking Tour Should You Choose?
Choosing the right hiking tour can be tricky. It’s important to consider the balance of physical challenge and comfort level that you require. To make your decision easier, we have drawn up a menu of Gentle, Moderate and Challenging hiking tours.
Before we explain the difference between the various grades, it is important to note that each hiking tour within a specific region follows the same official hiking trail. For example, if you choose to go walking in Kerry, it doesn’t matter whether you pick a ‘Gentle’ tour or a ‘Challenging’ tour – you will still be walking along the official ‘Kerry Way’ trail. To make these walking trails more accessible to all walkers, we have either 1) picked out the sections of the walking trails that are less demanding or 2) shortened the average daily hike between accommodations.
- Same Trail, Easier Sections: In Kerry, our ‘Gentle’ tours are restricted to the less demanding sections of the Kerry Way while our ‘Challenging’ tours cover the entire trail including the most difficult sections.
- Same Trail, Shorter Distances: In Wicklow, you can walk the entire trail on a 7-Day Challenging Tour or a 10-Day Gentle Tour. However, while the Challenging tour requires you to keep up a brisk pace of 27km (17 miles) per day, the Gentle tour has a more leisurely average of just over 16km (10 miles) per day.
Below is a general overview of each tour grading level. Note that the figures for ‘Average Daily Hike’ and ‘Hiking Time’ may vary between regions. Poor weather conditions can affect the average hiking time which is based on a person of normal fitness walking at a moderate speed of around 4km/h (2.5 mph). The hiking time takes into account the terrain covered but not the time required for lunch stops, photos, etc. For more details on daily distances, the level of ascent and the terrain the trail crosses; refer to the itinerary page of each individual tour.
Gentle12-18km (8-11 miles) 3-6 hours
Moderate16-23km (10-14 miles) 4-7 hours
Challenging22-30km (14-19 miles) 5-9 hours
How To Book
1. Simply select your preferred hiking region in Ireland
2. Choose the type of hiking tour you want to take: ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Challenging’
3. Next, identify the number of days you want to spend on your hiking tour
4. Click the ‘Make a Booking’ button on the top right of our webpage
5. Finally, fill out our booking form and make a €100 deposit per person
1. If you paid by credit card, you will receive an e-mail within 24 hours verifying receipt of your booking form and deposit payment. In this email, you will be asked to confirm your tour details. If you paid by bank transfer, payment will take a few days to reach us. Therefore you will receive your email confirmation and request to confirm your tour details shortly after we have assigned the bank payment to your booking form. In this case, you may receive an automatic email outlining that a booking form has been received, but no deposit has been received – you can disregard this email.
2. Once your confirmation is received that all details on your booking form are correct, we will begin making the arrangements for your tour. Therefore, the sooner you send us this confirmation, the sooner we can start to book your tour.
3. After all the arrangements for your tour have been confirmed (this process normally takes seven to ten working days) you will be sent a breakdown of the balance outstanding for your tour and a due date for payment.
4. Once your final payment has been received, we will send you an e-mail confirming receipt.
5. Your walking pack will be posted to your home address at least one month in advance of the start date of your tour (arrangements can be made to post this sooner if necessary). If the tour start date is less than one month away, your walking pack will be posted to your first B&B for you to collect upon arrival. If this is the case, you will also be sent soft copies of your walking pack documents by email.
Deposits and Final Payments can be made using:
1. Credit Card – through PayPal, used by 180 million people worldwide to make secure online credit card payments. Please note if you have opened a PayPal account at any stage in the past, you must log in to your account in order to make the payment.
2. Bank Transfer – please contact us for the required account details.
Please note: A detailed ‘Recommended Equipment List’ will be included in your walking pack
◻ WATERPROOF JACKET AND OVER-TROUSERS – You never know when you will need protection from wind and rain – so prepare for unpredictable weather by packing a waterproof, breathable jacket and over-trousers.
◻ BASE LAYER – This is what you wear against your skin and the best options are breathable and wicking fabrics instead of cotton. They will move moisture away from the skin so that you feel more comfortable when you are walking.
◻ FLEECE – It keeps you warm in ethe cooler months and on top of the hills, and will allow you to shed layers when you are working hard in the summer.
◻ LIGHT AND COMFORTABLE TROUSERS – Make sure you choose trousers that are stretchy or allow enough space to move your legs freely. Denims are not suitable for hill walking and dry very slowly once they get wet.
◻ WICKING SOCKS – Choose non-cotton socks that fit well and will move moisture away from your feet to stop them feeling sweaty. This will help to reduce the likelihood of blisters and ‘hot spots’.
◻ FOOTWEAR – We recommend that you bring comfortable, waterproof, lightweight shoes or boots, that provide good ankle support and offer good grip on rock, grass and mud. Remember that the trails in many of our regions, but especially along the west coast of Ireland, can become quite wet and muddy, after periods of rain. Additionally, if you are taking a walking tour in the Burren, the West of Ireland or Dingle, we recommend you choose your footwear carefully and bring something suitable to prolonged sections of asphalt hiking. Our tip: If you buy new boots for you holiday make sure to try them out on one or two longer walks before your tour!
◻ BACKPACK / RUCKSACK (with Waterproof Cover or liner) – To store all your essentials and keep them dry – including extra layers of clothing, your waterproofs, first aid kit, camera and your lunch, snacks and drinks. Don’t forget how important it is to stay hydrated and bring at least 1 – 2 litres of water per person each day, depending on the weather!
◻ WARM HAT & GLOVES – They can be essential in many regions, even in the summer, at higher altitudes and on exposed places.
◻ CASH – Bring enough for the duration of your tour/hike as ATM/cash machine & credit card services may be limited.
◻ FIRST AID KIT & FOIL BLANKET– It’s a good idea to have a small, basic first aid kit to deal with little injuries such as sprains, scrapes, cuts and blisters. Good things to bring are plasters & wound dressings, sterile cleansing wipes, pain killers, tweezers (for splinters & ticks), bandages, zinc oxide tape or elastoplast tape (for blisters or sprains) and a foil rescue blanket to keep you warm (or cool) in case of an accident.
◻ WHISTLE & TORCH – In the very unlikely event you need to signal for help (whistle) or if your walk takes longer than expected and you end up walking in the dark (torch).
◻ MOBILE PHONE – We recommend that you bring or purchase a mobile/cell phone. It will allow you to contact your accommodation and transfer providers from the trail and call for help in an emergency.
- Visitors from other European Countries: Most European billpay and prepay customers can use ‘roaming’ in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but check with your operator for the best rates before you travel.
- Visitors from the United States, Canada and elsewhere: Make sure that you have a GSM/UMTS phone compatible with European networks and a roaming service / suitable phone plan for the country you are travelling to (Ireland, or the UK for our Antrim Walks). If your phone is unlocked and GSM/UMTS compatible, you can also purchase an Irish or UK SIM card from a variety of mobile phone stores and supermarkets and use it in your own phone.
- Alternatively, you can purchase a cheap pre-pay phone when you arrive. It is possible to buy a basic pre-pay phone for as little as €20 or £15. You can then top-up with vouchers or a credit/debit card.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged before you start your walk. You might not always have a phone signal on the trail but, in general, the level of coverage is quite good.
◻ PLUG ADAPTER (/CONVERTER) – Three square pin plugs are used in Ireland and the UK – voltage is 230V.
◻ SUN CREAM, SUNGLASSES AND SUNHAT (April to Sept) – Let’s hope you’ll need those!
◻ MIDGE/INSECT REPELLENT & MIDGE NET (May to September only) – More important for Scotland, but can also be useful for other regions. Our tip: Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ moisturising cream – it’s not made specifically for midges but we find it works better and is also cheaper.
◻ CAMERA – Vital for capturing photos of the stunning scenery along your trip, which help you brag to your friends about your holiday.
◻ COMPASS – A compass (and the ability to use it) is a good idea but not a requirement for our Irish tours.
◻ WALKING POLES – Assist forward movement, reduce impact on your knees, and help with balance in difficult terrain. A pair is best but many hikers also just use one.
◻ GAITERS – By covering your upper boot and lower leg these help to keep your feet and trousers dry in wet grass and boggy terrain.
◻ EARPLUGS – We know how important it is to get a good night’s rest. However, as there may be other guests in the guesthouse with different plans for their night, we recommend bringing a pair of earplugs to ensure sweet dreams!
During Your Tour
Your room will be ready each day from 4pm at the latest and sometimes sooner.
Your luggage will arrive by 4pm each day.
Both continental breakfast and hot breakfasts are available every morning.
Packed lunches should be purchased each morning from your accommodation hosts or a nearby shop before you start your walk as you may not pass any shops/cafes during the day.
You can generally buy an evening meal in one of the local restaurants, cafes or pubs close to your accommodation. If there aren’t any restaurants/cafes/pubs in the local area, evening meals can be obtained from your host.
The majority of accommodation hosts will be able to assist you in drying your clothes and boots.
1 kilometre = 0.62 mile
1 mile = 1.61 kilometres
In Ireland, many hiking trails are on private land. This means that farmers still have their cattle grazing in the same fields. Some cattle may look intimidating. However, don’t worry, you will find these animals are actually quite timid. Continue walking in a normal fashion (do not run) and you should have no problems.
Here are a few other tips to avoid any issues when dealing with cattle on your hike:
– Don’t walk between cows and their calves if possible
– Walk around cattle not through the middle of them
– Calves and young bullocks are very curious and may even run towards you. Don’t worry, jump up and shout and they will run away again.
Most areas have cell phone reception, even while you are hiking. However, you may pass through some remote areas where reception will be either limited or unavailable entirely.
Yes, in most Bed and Breakfast’s Wi-Fi is available.
Yes, most routes are very clearly way-marked with a marker directly before and after each turn. Sections of the Antrim Glens & Coastline are poorly way-marked.
Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, enjoys a mild, maritime climate, due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. The warmest months are July and August with temperature averages between 16 and 20°C. Rain falls throughout the year and the weather in Ireland can change very quickly. Annual rainfall in the mountains and the west can be more than 2,000mm, but many other areas receive an average of less than 1,000mm. The driest months are April, May and June.